Day 51: Lower Body Nerves
The knowledge of lower body nerves pathways is also important to mitigate injuries. The hips and legs are strongly built to handle the pressure of day-to-day movement with large muscles and bones. Compared with the upper limb, the nerves are deeper in the body so the risks in bondage are different. Most of the superficial nerves are sensory branches, and the larger muscles have a higher tendency to cause entrapment. This activity builds on the previous one, check back on Day 50 to review basic information on nerves and how to deal with injuries.
Lower Body Nerves Functions and Common Rope Injuries
The rope-related nerve injuries in the lower body are most often damage to the sensory nerves leading to numb patches on the skin that can take a long time to heal. Motor nerves might still be injured as there are a few known cases of “foot drop” caused by rope play. The vast majority of these injuries often involve a high amount of pressure that is often present when doing suspension but also when doing high compression on the body in floorwork. Compared with the upper body, the nerves in the legs are buried deeper in the body under larger muscles, on one part it means they are more protected, on the other, it makes them harder to locate to prevent injuries.
At the tip of the coccyx, you’ll find the coccygeal plexus, the origin of the coccyx’s skin’s sensory nerves. This spot might be sensitive when adding a crotch rope and highly vary from person to person. Those who had a broken tailbone in the past might have extra pain when pressing on that spot.
In the hip, the iliohypogastric and the ilioinguinal nerves circle around the waist toward the front. They have motor functions for the abdominal muscles with several sensory branches. These nerves can be compressed by a hip line digging very deep above the hip bone causing numbness in the groin area.
The cluneal nerve is a sensory nerve that innervates the upper part of the butt skin and may be injured by entrapment within the butt muscles. This can happen in rope play if someone clenches their buttocks muscles really hard for an extended period of time.
The obturator nerves are exposed in the groin area, on the inside of the leg. Compression to this nerve may cause a numb patch lower down in the upper inside of the leg.
The lateral cutaneous nerve is a sensory nerve that runs along the front of the hip and side of the leg. Its most common injury is with hip harnesses that press on the inside of the hipbone. This will create a numb patch downward from the location of the injury.
The femoral nerve is responsible for flexing the hip joint and extending the knee. It is also the sensory nerve that innervates the front of the thigh. It has a few vulnerable spots, at the hip and on the inside of the legs. There are known injuries in bondage of high compression or entrapment in the thigh muscles causing numbness downward from the location of the injury.
The saphenous nerve is a branch of the femoral that is only sensory and innervates the inside of the calves. It is especially vulnerable behind the calf close to the knee.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve of the body, the part of the nerve from the spine to the knee is rarely known to be injured in bondage. That said, sciatica is a common sports injury. If you are aware of sciatic sensitivity, take the time to understand how movement can trigger nerve issues to avoid issues during rope play.
In the lower leg, the sciatic nerve branches out as the peroneal/fibular nerves. The deep peroneal’s motor function is to lift the foot and its sensory branch innervate a small spot between the big and second toe. It has a weak spot on the calf behind the knee. Injury higher up on the calf might cause foot drop, which is probably the lower body nerve injury with the highest consequences, along with a numb patch on the top of the foot. Injuries lower on the leg will create sensory problems only.
Another important branch of sciatic is the superficial peroneal/fibular nerve. This sensory nerve innervates the front and outside of the lower leg and the top of the foot. It is most vulnerable behind the top of the body prominence of the fibula on the calf close to the knee.
[Coming soon. Diagram of sensory innervation of the lower body]
There are of course many other nerves and branches of these nerves that are interesting to study. Medical resources are full of interesting details on the nerves, their function and how to heal them. This is just an overview.
Overview of the Lower Body Nerve Functions
|Nerve cluster at the tip of coccyx is sensitive, can be hit with crotch rope
|Internal and transverse abdominal muscles
|Lateral gluteal and hypogastric (lower belly) region
|Vulnerable with high pressure on the waist around the hip bone
|Internal oblique and transversus abdominis muscles
|superior medial thigh and part of the scrotum/penis root or part of the clitoris/labia
|Vulnerable with high pressure on the waist around the hip bone
|Upper part of buttocks
|Vulnerable to entrapment in the buttocks muscle
|Adduction of the lower limb
|Upper interior of the leg, below the groin area
|Vulnerable in the groin area.
|Front and outside of the thigh
|Vulnerable just inside of the front body of the hip. Common hip harness injury.
|Flex the hip joint and extend the knee
|Front and middle of the thigh.
Indirectly inside of the lower leg.
|Runs wide of the femoral artery (where you can feel your pulse in the groin). Vulnerable at the hip and along the exterior of the leg.
|Saphenous (via femoral)
|Inside of the lower leg
|Final branch of the femoral nerve. Vulnerable behind the thigh close to the knee
|Muscles of the posterior thigh and the hamstring portion of the adductor magnus.
Indirectly innervates all the muscles of the lower leg and foot.
|No direct sensitive functions.
Indirectly the exterior of the calf, the heel and a large portion of the foot.
|Sciatica is a common sports injury. The nerve is well protected from rope pressure but can be injured with movement, especially if there is a pre-existing condition.
|Deep peroneal/fibural (via sciatic)
|Lift the foot
|Area between the first 2 toes
|Damage behind the knee can cause foot drop. Also vulnerable on the top of the foot, which only causes numbness between the toes.
|Superficial peroneal/fibular (via sciatic)
|Front and outside of the lower leg and top of the foot
|Most vulnerable just behind the top of the bony prominence of the fibula.
Lower Limb Nerve Location and Drawing Pathways
Finding the nerves in the hips and legs can be challenging as they can be covered by large muscles. To find them through palpation might require a bit more pressure than with the upper body. These nerves are still fragile, so we have to add pressure progressively and avoid shocks when trying to find the location. Engaging the muscles around the nerves usually makes it easier to find, but sometimes this will add a layer of protection. Play with the tension in the body to find what works for you at each location.
Just like with the upper body, the pathways of nerves will be unique to each person. Here are some spots to try palpation to see if you can find the nerves.
- Lateral cutaneous – Front of the hip, right inside the hip bone
- Front the hip, lower toward the pubis
- Along the inside of the leg, usually more vulnerable in the midpoint of the thigh
- Obturator – groin area
- Saphenous – Inside of the thigh, toward the knee
- Deep peroneal/fibular
- Top of the calf, the knee joint
- Mid front top of the foot
- Superficial peroneal/fibular – Top of the calf, toward the outside
Coming soon reference image of nerve locations
Lower Body Nerve Check
Making sure all nerves are in good working order in the lower body is much different than in the upper limbs. It is much more difficult for the person being tied to self-check.
On the motor side, the most likely problem is foot drop so it’s good to lift the foot from time to time. This has the added benefit of helping circulation by contracting the calf muscles. If we suspect some weakness, we can try pushing against a light pressure on the top of the foot and comparing both sides.
Monitoring sensation loss is much more subtle. One strategy is to touch the leg skin on the different nerve zones. This check can take the form of pleasant caresses. It might be difficult to feel numbness when we are overloaded with other sensations, so it’s good to do it periodically during the tie and as we remove the rope to feel any sign of sensory change.
Should you feel signs of nerve injury, avoid sudden movement that can worsen the injury. Loosen the rope in the affected region if possible, then remove the rope completely and avoid any pressure until healing is complete. Consult a medical professional if the movement or sensation doesn’t resume quickly. Check back on Day 50 for more detail on how to deal with nerve injuries.
Common Ties and Nerve Placements
Continue the drawing exercise from Day 50 on the lower body. Find the nerves, draw the pathways using different colours of pens.
- Check out different medical resources to get a better understanding of the legs, butt and hip anatomy.
- Try different nerve glides with the legs and note the different sensations you experience.
- Palpate the body to identify the nerve pathway and draw the location as you find spots where the nerves run more superficially.
- Try palpating with the hips, butt, and legs in different positions.
- Are both sides identical?
- Try different ties such as a hip harness, and a mermaid tie and observe which nerves can be hit
- Put the body in various positions and observe how things change
- Try drawing other parts of the body such as muscles and bones
Inspirations and Resources
- Nerve damage prevention (available in several languages) by Antoine Savalski and Elise Depont
- Nerves and Circulation by Rope Study
- Nerve injury: Treatment & Management (Rope Bondage) by Lightwriter
- Anatomy for Rope Bondage by IPCookieMonster
- Nerve Glide – Sciatic – Ask Doctor Jo
- Femoral Nerve Nerve Flossing by Dr. Abelson
- Femoral nerve glide floss by Rehab My Patient Variation 1 Variation 2 Variation 3 Variation 4
- Peroneal nerve glide floss by Rehab My Patient Variation 1 Variation 2 Variation 3 Variation 4
- Sciatic nerve glide floss Variation 1 Variation 2 Variation 3
- On My Nerves: Moving away from recommending ice for bondage-related nerve injuries by Shayblondie
- Medical videos by Dr. Nabil Ebraheim (check the whole channel for more anatomy and medical knowledge)
Credit: M: Alexk7 R/P: Ebi McKnotty